Children of Japan

Children of Japan
Courtesy, R. John Wright

The Jumeau 201

The Jumeau 201
Courtesy Theriault's and Antique Doll Collector Magazine

Hinges and Hearts

Hinges and Hearts
An Exhibit of our Metal Dolls

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Tuxedo and Bangles

Tuxedo and Bangles

A History of Metal Dolls

A History of Metal Dolls
Now on Alibris.com and In Print! The First Book of its Kind

Alice, Commemorative Edition

Alice, Commemorative Edition
Courtesy, R. John Wright

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Emma, aka, La Contessa Bathory

Emma, aka, La Contessa Bathory
Her Grace wishes us all a Merry Christmas!

Annabelle

Annabelle

Emma Emmeline

Emma Emmeline
Our New Addition/fond of stuffed toys

Cloth Clown

Cloth Clown

Native American Art

Native American Art

the triplets

the triplets

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby
Bought Athens on the street

Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Sand Baby Swirls!

Sand Baby Swirls!
By Glenda Rolle, courtesy, the Artist

Glenda's Logo

Glenda's Logo
Also, a link to her site

Sand Baby Castaway

Sand Baby Castaway
By Glenda Rolle, Courtesy the Artist

A French Friend

A French Friend

Mickey

Mickey
From our friends at The Fennimore Museum

2000+ year old Roman Rag Doll

2000+ year old Roman Rag Doll
British Museum, Child's Tomb

Ancient Egypt Paddle Doll

Ancient Egypt Paddle Doll
Among first "Toys?"

ushabti

ushabti
Egyptian Tomb Doll 18th Dynasty

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

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Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase

Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase
Courtesy, Antique Daughter

Judge Peep

Judge Peep

Hakata Doll Artist at Work

Hakata Doll Artist at Work
From the Museum Collection

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Japanese Costume Barbies

Japanese Costume Barbies
Samurai Ken

Etienne

Etienne
A Little Girl

Happy Heart Day

Happy Heart Day

From "Dolls"

From "Dolls"
A Favorite Doll Book

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Jenny Wren

Jenny Wren
Ultimate Doll Restorer

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Baby Boo 1960s

Baby Boo 1960s
Reclaimed and Restored as a childhood Sabrina the Witch with Meow Meow

Dr. E's on Display with sign

Dr. E's on Display with sign

Dolls Restored ad New to the Museum

Dolls Restored ad New to the Museum
L to R: K*R /celluloid head, all bisque Artist Googly, 14 in. vinyl inuit sixties, early celluloid Skookum type.

Two More Rescued Dolls

Two More Rescued Dolls
Late Sixties Vinyl: L to R: Probably Horseman, all vinyl, jointed. New wig. R: Effanbee, probably Muffy, mid sixties. New wig and new clothing on both. About 12 inches high.

Restored Italian Baby Doll

Restored Italian Baby Doll
One of Dr. E's Rescued Residents

Dolls on Display

Dolls on Display
L to R: Nutcrackers, Danish Troll, HItty and her book, Patent Washable, Mechanical Minstrel, Creche figure, M. Alexander Swiss. Center is a German mechanical bear on the piano. Background is a bisque German costume doll.

A Few Friends

A Few Friends
These dolls are Old German and Nutcrackers from Dr. E's Museum. They are on loan to another local museum for the holidays.

Vintage Collage

Vintage Collage
Public Domain Art

The Merry Wanderer

The Merry Wanderer
Courtesy R. John Wright, The Hummel Collection

The Fennimore Doll Museum

The Fennimore Doll Museum

Robert

Robert
A Haunted Doll with a Story

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

The Cody Jumeau

The Cody Jumeau
Long-faced or Jumeau Triste

German Princesses

German Princesses
GAHC 2005

A Little PowerRanger

A Little PowerRanger
Halloween 2004

The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls
Shrine to Dolls in Mexico

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death
Doll House murder

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A lovely dress

A lovely dress

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann
A few friends in cloth!

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI
Pixar Animator's Collection

Little PM sisters

Little PM sisters
Recent eBay finds

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Really old Dolls!

Really old Dolls!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thems the Breaks

It is Easter Morning 2010. We are a little cloudy, and as is, perhaps, biblically fitting, it rained on Good Friday, but there was no storm and earthquake, though Tuesday is the anniversary of the San Francisco Quake. In 1990, on April 6th, we who lived in California had aftershocks from the October Loma Prieta Quake at the very moment the 1906 quake had struck. There were still survivors alive then, and they were having a memorial and were very surprised. I have a doll from the Bay Area that allegedly survived the quake. She came from Indiana Antiques in San Jose, which used to be very well known for their wonderful dolls. Visiting them was like visiting a museum. I was lucky enough to get the Earthquake China Head, as I call her, and some other small dolls from them.

I guess when I think of earthquakes and Breaking easter eggs for good luck, which we do at church, I then think of dolls that have been cracked or broken, but that still serve a purpose. Of course, I have dolls with real eggs for heads. They are delicate, and have to be watched carefully, lest they really "crack up," but some are now forty years old, and they are hanging on fine. My mother and I also collected Ukrainian eggs and other fancy decorated eggs. We loved the ones with scenes in them, and I used to love to paint designs a la Tasha Tudor on them. We started making Easter trees from branches when I was in kindergarten, and we never really stopped. My friend Bev in San Jose made spectacular Easter trees at work, decorated with almost every type of egg design imaginable. She made almost all of them, then shared her leftover materials with me. Her trees were about five feet tall with lights and surrounding scenes. Mine were strictly table top variety, but I loved the lights and little wooden ornaments.

Small doll heads that are either broken at the neck or badly cracked have proved to be very popular with mixed media artists and collage artists. I love to use them, too,and have made some into pins and jewelry for the last 20 years. I have a barrette decorated with Frozen Charlottes in various stages of disrepair that is charming, but I'm too afraid to wear it. The trouble with this kind of art is I can never find a good, strong glue for everything!

When the Wall came down in Germany, many of the old doll factories came to light again. According to Puppentour and many witnesses, there were discarded heads and shards from bisque dolls lying on the ground. Tour guides allowed them to scoop up as many as they could carry. Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't there. I fear I would have a nervous breakdown trying to gather them all, and then would never clear customs. I'd have to mortgage everything to ship them home, etc. More likely than not, many of these were purchased at reasonalbe rates. Many are showing up on eBay and Etsy and they are selling well.

Mom and I loved our little "broken heads," and headed out for many an antique show and doll show to find them. Some came from old dumps, and were dug up by bottle collectors. In grad school, I met a minister who used to dig them up for a hobby. From him I bought many, many treasures, including some very nice old bottles and nearly complete china dolls. Another young, innocent guy told me that he sold and gave some to his mother or aunt, who then made them into dolls and sold them for "thousands," well, thousands of pennies, maybe.

Still, I've seen the prices of damaged but fixable heads climbing recently, probably because of the craft market for them. One dealer in Alto Pass, IL, didn't sell his shards and fragments. Instead, he used them fill wall space he had created with plexiglass. He was surrounded with them. Anyone who has seen "How to Make an American Quilt" remembers the walls in Anne Bancroft's "infidelity" room where she plastered heads of figurines she smashed into her wall to remind her husband of how unfaithful he had been.

We bought our first damaged doll head in Gilroy at the flea market, and my mom called her "the little burned head" because it was obvious she had been in a fire. She was a small A and M 370, as many of these are. We dressed her in Victorian eyelet with leg o'mutton sleeves and a wig of long, red banana curls. We found her small, grey glass eyes, and were realy thrilled with her. Another time, we found a Small, French head with pierced ears along with a wooden frame for a body, an old cloth body with limbs, and a pair of arms. I got at least three dolls out of that cache.

I want to have a museum display devoted to these "fabulous fragments" as I call them, and that will be the name of my Museum Gift Shop. I have been collecting unusual figurine heads as well, and unusual hand carved limbs and cast lead arms. It sounds goulish, but no more so than any good doll hospital. I always loved fixing dolls, though I'm just an amateur. These little fragments let me have an example of a great antique doll that I could otherwise not afford, and let me learn about making and repairing dolls, too. I picked up a carved Milliner's model this way, a fragment of a Jumeau fashion head with the red label stamped on the back intact, JDK Hilda [2 of them, one not broken], several more French heads, many rare and beautiful china heads, including a lady with a snood, and a whole dynasty of Frozen Charlottes, some very large. Carl Fox likened these little Charlotte fragments to the Venus of Willendorf figures, the 40,000 year old artifacts which are really the first dolls.

Over the years, I loved taking them out and rebuilding shoulder plates with plaster, and sometimes filling in "ouchies" with Play Dough or sculpey. My mom was very good at dressing them with hand knitted or crocheted outfits, or sewing of the smallest design. I learned from my friend Violet how to make bodies, and even to restring, though I could never get the same tension she could. I used to make wigs out of goats wool [Dr. Scholl's] and craft hair which got very elaborate. We dressed one old china head like Lady Macbeth, and another like Boadicea. Violet, who loved me like her own grand daughter, used to give me the "mistakes" from her kiln because in part, she liked to see what I could do with them. I used waterbased paints on some that have held up now for nearly forty years.

So, never underestimate or ignore "lucky breaks." They are a great way to teach kids about antique dolls and doll repair, and for collectors who hav a little bit of Beth March in them, they are a wonderful hobby in themselves.

I hope everyone has a blessed Easter. I hope to add a few doll stories next.

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